Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 19

The many benefits of fibre

Its health potential goes well beyond improving bowel movements

Akey component of a healthy diet , fibre can be found in a variety of plant-based foods and have lots of positives that range from improved bowel movements to risk reduction for common chronic diseases . There are basically two types of fibre that we consume . The first , insoluble fibre , doesn ’ t dissolve in fluids and sticks to other substances to produce bulkier stool while facilitating food passing through the stomach and intestines . This process helps to move bowels regularly , preventing constipation and improving colorectal health , while cutting the risk of haemorrhoids and diverticulitis . Foods rich in insoluble fibre are wheat flour and bran , cauliflower , green beans , and potatoes .

The other type , soluble fibre , dissolves in water and feeds gut bacteria , the good microorganisms that live in the digestive system . It also helps strengthen the immune system and can offer some protection against diabetes . It can be found in black and lima beans , Brussels sprouts , avocado , sweet potatoes , broccoli , turnips , oats , and pears .
Processed foods , like those found in most fast-food restaurants , instead have a low fibre content , another good reason to stay away from them as much as possible .
“ Since most plants have both forms of fibre , you get more bang for your buck when you eat a diet rich in vegetables ,” said registered dietitian Gillian Culbertson , according to the Cleveland Clinic . She added that , while some people might benefit from taking supplements to
meet their daily fibre intake , food was usually the best source to reap health benefits .
An analysis of more than 200 studies found that people consuming lots of fibre saw a 15 to 30 percent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular-related mortality as well as in the incidence of coronary heart disease , stroke , type 2 diabetes , and colorectal cancer compared to those who had a diet low in fibre . The most significant risk reduction was observed when daily fibre intake ranged between 25 and 39 grammes .
“ The health benefits of fibre are supported by over 100 years of research into its chemistry , physical properties , physiology and effects on metabolism ,” Dr Jim Mann , professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand and author of one of the studies , said in a press release .
These health benefits are in part due to fibre ’ s ability to lower bad cholesterol levels , a risk factor for heart disease , and control the amount of sugar in the blood , thus decreasing the chance of developing diabetes . Adding fibre to your diet can also contribute to keeping weight under control because foods like highfibre whole grains make you feel full for long stretches of time . In fact , soluble fibre can reduce the body ’ s ability to absorb fat .
But if you want to switch to a diet higher in fibre , it ’ s advisable not to do it too suddenly since it could lead to intestinal gas , abdominal bloating , and cramping . Gradually increasing daily intake over a few weeks is a good practice .
15 to 30 percent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascularrelated mortality as well as in the incidence of coronary heart disease , stroke , type 2 diabetes , and colorectal cancer
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MAY 2022
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